Invest Nebraska chosen as finalist in EDA’s Build Back Better Regional Challenge

Updated: May 2

Invest Nebraska, in partnership with several community partners that collectively make up the Heartland Robotics Cluster Coalition, was named by the Economic Development Administration (EDA) as a finalist in the $1 billion Build Back Better Regional Challenge.


Key stakeholder of the coalition includes The Combine AgTech Incubator, Nebraska Innovation Studio, Metropolitan Area Planning Agency, Northeast Community College, the University of Nebraska College of Engineering, Metro Community College, and the Nebraska Manufacturing Extension Partnership.


The Heartland Robotics Cluster Coalition will advance to Phase 2 and compete for up to $100 million in American Rescue Plan funding to develop and scale the robotics industry in Nebraska. The Build Back Better Regional Challenge is assisting communities nationwide in their efforts to build back better by accelerating the economic recovery from the coronavirus pandemic and building local economies that will be resilient to future economic shocks.

“Nebraska has the strong infrastructure assets that create the foundation for a robotics cluster,” said Invest Nebraska CEO Dan Hoffman. “This coalition is bringing together those assets with the first goal of increasing labor productivity in agriculture.”


The Heartland Robotics Cluster Coalition is part of a regional coalition of stakeholders from government, business, nonprofits, and academia. As a finalist, the Heartland Robotics Cluster Coalition was awarded $500,000 to develop a collaborative plan to invest in makerspaces, education, workforce development, and incubation technical assistance that would set Nebraska on a long-term path to continue as a leader in agriculture production but with greater labor productivity.


Phase 1 of the Build Back Better Regional Challenge invited coalitions to apply for funding to

implement a collection of three to eight distinct but related projects in their region. Projects needed to be in coordination with industry and community partners and aligned around a holistic vision to build and scale a strategic industry sector.


EDA received 529 applications from regions in all 50 states and five territories. The 60 finalists represent regions that formed extraordinary coalitions, demonstrated regional needs, and presented bold proposals to grow their target industry clusters. Ranging from rural communities and coastal towns to major metros, the finalists make up a diverse cross-section of the United States.


In Phase 2, finalists will compete for significant implementation assistance. EDA will award 20-

30 coalitions each up to $100 million. These awards will assist communities in executing ambitious plans to supercharge their regional economies across a variety of strategic growth

sectors.


About the American Rescue Plan Programs


The Build Back Better Regional Challenge is one of many EDA programs aimed at building strong regional economies and supporting community-led economic development. Under the

American Rescue Plan, EDA was allocated $3 billion in supplemental funding to assist communities nationwide in their efforts to build back better by accelerating the economic recovery from the coronavirus pandemic and building local economies that will be resilient to future economic shocks.


American Rescue Plan funding enables EDA to provide larger, more transformational investments across the nation while utilizing its greatest strengths, including flexible funding to support community-led economic development. With an emphasis on equity, EDA investments made under the American Rescue Plan will directly benefit previously underserved communities impacted by COVID-19. For more information about EDA’s American Rescue Plan programs, visit eda.gov/ARPA.


About the U.S. Economic Development Administration


The mission of the U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA) is to lead the federal economic development agenda by promoting competitiveness and preparing the nation’s regions for growth and success in the worldwide economy. An agency within the U.S. Department of Commerce, EDA invests in communities and supports regional collaboration in order to create jobs for U.S. workers, promote American innovation, and accelerate long-term sustainable economic growth. For more information about EDA, visit eda.gov.


About Invest Nebraska


Invest Nebraska is a private, non-profit statewide venture development organization focused on high-growth companies in Nebraska and growing the state’s entrepreneurial economy. Invest Nebraska works directly with entrepreneurs, researchers, and companies to help commercialize their technologies, launch, and grow new businesses, and access needed capital.


Media Contact:

Dan Hoffman, CEO

Invest Nebraska

dan@investnebraska.com

402-742-7860